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Living by Faith (Vol 36) - Abraham: The Perseverance of Faith # 1

Sunday English Service - 28 APR 19

Transcript

Hebrews chapter 11 verse 13 and 14. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. Now we've been studying about the faith of Abraham, really, Hebrews chapter 11 is about faith. Our whole topic is titled as living by faith, and in this we are in a different section where we are studying particularly the faith of Abraham. More space is given to Abraham than any other person here in Hebrews chapter 11. Because Abraham is the father of faith, there is so much to learn from Abraham. So, from verse 18 to 19 is a long section with the story of Abraham.

And when you read 8 to 19, those verses, you can immediately tell that he's not telling the whole story but he's picking out certain events from the life of the great man, Abraham, to teach us some lessons concerning faith. Particularly, he wants to present faith as having four stages in it. That is what I've been sharing with you. The reason he puts it in that way is because he sees that our faith as believers today is basically something that consists of these four stages - faith that passes through these four stages of growth.

The first stage is the stage where Abraham was called. He lived in a country in a place where there was no knowledge of God, in utter darkness, in ignorance of God, worshipping whatever the forefathers worshiped. But then the God of glory appeared to Abraham, something happened in his life where he met God in a real way. It must have been a real meeting that made a big impact upon his life so that at the end of that meeting, he decided to leave his country, leave his people, and travel more than 1,000 miles on road by walk and go to the place where God would show him. Not even knowing where he was going. He was going and he ended up going more than 1,000 miles in those days. That is amazing, if a person would leave his country. It's very difficult to leave your country and your people and everything and your culture and all the things that you have as a support emotionally and mentally and culturally, and go to a totally new situation. But something happened to him, and he departed and went.

Now, that is so true of believers today also. That is why the author of Hebrews points this out. He talks about it in verses 8, 9 and 10, talks about the call of Abraham. It is so true about our lives also. We didn't know Christ, we lived in darkness. Some of us come from backgrounds where we worshipped gods whom our forefathers worshipped. We had no knowledge of God, the living God. We lived in ignorance of God. But something happened somewhere along the road in our lives. We just met Jesus Christ in a real way. Just like the God of glory appeared to Abraham, we had a visitation of God through a preaching or through some event that took place we met with God in a real way. That meeting with God or that encounter with God made such a difference in us that we departed from our old life, from our old practices, from our old way of worship, from our old culture, and all of those things, and started following Christ. We became believers in Jesus Christ and followers of Jesus Christ. And that is so real. The call aspect is so real. There is a parallel between our call and Abraham's call, that's why he’s using it to teach us these things.

The second stage of Abraham's faith-life is the stage where he goes into the foreign land into the land which God had showed him. And there he is met with two big challenges. One is the famine that was there in the land, no food and then there was the enemies. In those days, for foreign people to go into another land, move into a new culture, and establish themselves, was that difficult thing. He faced a lot of enemies and challenges. And here Abraham was in a totally new place and he was met with challenges. One is the famine, and the other is the enemies. And God proved to him in his faith-life, this was the second stage where he learned something about God, that God is not only a God who called him to salvation, but He's a God who meets his needs. That he supplies all his needs. That he had a wonderful experience of God taking him. He ran in fear to Egypt to get some food. And some events took place that I shared with you already. But through it all, God showed him that He can make him rich even in the midst of famine. In the midst of famine, God made Abraham rich. That's how the story goes. So that when he came back from Egypt, he was a rich man with cattle, gold and silver, female and male servants, and so on. Cattle that the earth could not bear. No pasture to be found for them because so much cattle. He was a wealthy man.

In the midst of famine, God increased him and made him wealthy. Also, the enemies, God made four kings to bow before him and he defeated four kings with just household servants. Amazing event. So that Melchizedek another king, a man of God, comes to him and says that, “God has given your enemies into your hands.” Total victory. He sees God in it. It's God's doing. So, he learned another thing that God is a great protector, not only a provider, but a protector. That's the second stage. And we all go through that stage in our life. We are not only called to salvation, we also find out soon that God is our provider, and our protector.

The third stage is a stage where he learns that God is the God of the impossible. And that's what we've been talking about last four weeks - the God of the impossible. Where he was 99 years old, his wife was 90 years old, the whole world said, “It's not possible. You cannot have a child, cannot have posterity.” And God said, “You can.” God said, “I'll give you a child.” God made him a wonderful promise and fulfilled that promise in his life. God did something wonderful where he took the 99-year-old man whose body was considered to be dead, and the 90-year-old woman whose womb was dead, the Bible says. This is the description the Bible gives. And revived that womb and revived this man and produced a child using two hopeless cases, 99 and 90 years old. God showed that He is the God of the impossible. And we looked at it.

Now before going to the fourth stage, there are four verses in between the third stage and the fourth stage. Because we're preaching verse by verse, I have to preach about these four verses also. The four verses are inserted here right between the third and the fourth stage to tell us something more about these people's faith. That it was a persevering faith. A faith that did not give in or give up. A faith that crossed all obstacles, overcame all difficulties and held on. True faith is like that. True faith is durable. It is constant. True faith is something that is living, incorruptible and cannot be conquered by the devil. True faith is a winning faith, is a victorious faith. To show that, he uses these four verses right in the middle, in between the third and the fourth stage. And it's very interesting study. So, I want to go through it with you. And that is why I read verse 13 and 14 today.

Now, the way we deal with it is that the in 13th verse, the outline is basically there of what this author has to say. He says, “These people died in faith not having received the promises.” I'm going to explain what it means. This is one of the very difficult verses, I think, for some people in the Bible to understand. Because when I preached on it, when I just mentioned a little part of it in the previous sermons, one person came to me and said, “I'm glad that you mentioned it because I thought I was one who’s going to die without realizing the promises of God. That sometimes the promises of God go unfulfilled. God says something, but He doesn't end up doing it. So, we die without realizing the promises of God. That's what I thought, and that's what I thought may happen to me,” she said. “I'm glad you explained that,” and I'll explain it again today. I'll explain it more systematically and with the evidence I will explain. The other day I did it in passing because I was preaching on something else and I had to explain that.

So, these all died in faith - will explain what that is - not having received the promises. That's the thing that's difficult. If God does not fulfill His promises, then His promises are a waste of time to attend to. And His promises cannot mean anything to us. So, we have to solve that issue. They all died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them far off and were assured of them - that means they were persuaded of them, some translations say - embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

So, we got a pie of five things, five-point outline right there. What are the five things? They all have not received the promises but die. Secondly, they saw those promises which they did not receive from far off. Thirdly, they were fully persuaded of those promises. Fourthly, they embraced those promises. And fifthly, they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. Thereby declaring, the next verse says plainly, that they seek a homeland. That this is not their homeland, they have another homeland. This is the basic thing there. So, five things. They did not receive the promises. They saw the promises from far off. Fully persuaded of it and they embraced it. And they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. So, let's look at these five things. We’ll understand what this verse is saying and we’ll understand how faith is a persevering faith. Faith never gives up and it's persevering faith. It's not a waste of time to look into the promise of God. God never fails.

So then, let's look at the first thing. Why does it say they all died in faith not having received the promises? Why? How can they die in faith not having received the promises? What does it mean? In order to understand that, you need to understand what the promise contained. What did the promise contain? A lot of people if you ask them, “What did God promise Abraham?” Usually they'll say, “He promised Isaac for him.” But that is not true. That is only partly true. God not only promised Isaac to him; He promised many more things. The promise of Isaac, the promise of descendants, the promise of a seed contained much more in it than just one son for him named Isaac. That if you understand, you will understand more about this whole thing.

So, let me show to you what the problem is contained with Bible verses itself. Let's go to Genesis chapter 15, where Abraham's story is found. Already Abraham has left his country and come to where God wanted him to go to. And now, like 10 years have passed and God appears to Abraham in a vision. Verse 1 says, the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” And Abram said, “Lord God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”

See, back in those days if an owner of an estate or owner of great wealth did not have any heir, usually such people had a manager who managed their affairs, managed their business, managed their house and so on. That person if he stayed with him long enough and served him long enough faithfully, will end up inheriting or his son will end up inheriting all the assets. Actually, these rich fellows will adopt the boy and give him the inheritance. And Abraham was worried that that's what is going to happen to him. He's become wealthy ever since he left home and doing well but one problem, he didn't have an heir. And he was worried about it that the servant is going to take all of his wealth one day.

And, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, verse 4, “This one shall not be your heir.” See here God we see definitely promises a child. “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” That means, “You and Sarah, you both, will produce a child and that will be your heir.” God definitely gives a promise of a son that will be born to them. God is saying, “No, no, nobody else is going to be heir, you are going to have an heir from you. He’s going to be from you for you and your wife is going to produce.”

In this promise, there is a definite promise of an Isaac that will be born as son who will be born through him and descendants through him. So, that is a seed, the promise of a seed. But the promise is not only about that. There is another seed that is promised. This is what a lot of people fail to look at in Galatians chapter 3. Paul points this out. In Galatians chapter 3 and verse 16, Paul says - very interesting the way Paul brings it out. He says in verse 16, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many. He says, “God didn't say it in plural, seeds. He said Seed. “To Abraham and his Seed were the promises made,” he says. He said, “And to your Seed,” and that Seed is Christ.

This is amazing. He says the promise is made to Abraham and his Seed. God mentioned the Seed in singular, not plural, and that Seed refers to Christ. So, Abraham is going to produce not only Isaac and descendants through him, that is one seed but the promises of Abraham also belong to the Seed who’s Christ. Now, this is something that was never realized in Abraham's lifetime. This is something that Abraham had to wait 2,000 years to realize, the promise made to Abraham but he died without realizing the promise. After he died, 2,000 years later, this promise got fulfilled, Jesus was born. See, now you begin to understand what the Bible is saying when it says, “All these died in faith without realizing the promises.” Now, it doesn't mean that Abraham never realized the promises that God made to him, it means that the promise contained much more than just one son and descendants through him. That one son was born in Abraham's lifetime, that promise was realized and Abraham saw it but there were other parts of the promise that were not fulfilled in his lifetime. He had to die and the promises would become realized later on. So, Jesus is the Seed, Abraham's Seed. That means Jesus would be born, He will become the Savior of the world and so on. He will come through Abraham, He will be a son of Abraham, He'll produce descendants for him.

Thirdly, another seed is promised. Now, this is most interesting. The third part of the promise is found first of all in Genesis chapter 12 verse 3. “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So, God told Abraham in the beginning itself, “In you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” There is only one way that kind of promise can be fulfilled. I can understand if God said, “In you all your descendants will be blessed.” But God didn't say that. He said that also, but He says something else here. The promise included something more than just his descendants. He said, “In you shall all the families of the earth,” all the families of the earth. That is how my translation puts it. I’m reading from New King James. All the families of the earth will be blessed. How can all the families, not even Jews, not even just the earthly descendants of Abraham, will be blessed? Every family of the earth will be blessed through Abraham, what kind of promise is that? Well, that promise can only be interpreted like this.

See, Jesus is going to be born of Abraham as a seed of Abraham 2,000 years later. And He's going to die on the cross and He's going to rise again, become the Savior of the world. And those who believe in Him, all those who believe in Him will become Abraham's children. And they will be blessed through Abraham in that way. There is no other way to understand that verse than that way. That is exactly what it means and that's how Paul sees it. Paul is a great proof of it. And I'll get there in a minute.

If you look at chapter 17, it is even more clear. This is about people from all over the world, the Gentiles, non-Jews, coming in to Abraham's family, and Abraham becoming a father to all of these people. This was promised already. The promise contained not just the promise of Isaac, not just the promise of Jesus coming through Abraham and being born through Abraham as a descendant of Abraham, but the promise also contained that people from every tongue, tribe and nation will come into the family of Abraham and call Abraham father and he will become the father of many nations in that way. Through Jesus Christ, through their faith in Christ, they'll all become Abraham's children. Look at 17th chapter verse 5. God says to Abram. “No longer shall your name be called Abram,” in those days, “but your name shall be called Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”

How is it going to be fulfilled? I can see him as father of the Israelites but that is not the promise. Yeah, he's the father of Israelites, no doubt about it. The Israelites always were very proud of that, “Our father Abraham,” they said. They were always talking about him as their father, but do they know that he also became a father of many nations, many kinds of people? The Bible says so. So, here in verse 5, we see that Abram's name was changed to Abraham, which meant that he will be father of many nations. Now look at 15, Sarah's name also was changed. Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.” From Sarai she became Sarah. Slight change when H was added in both names, that's all. “And I will bless her,” next verse, “and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations.” Not a mother of that one son but beyond that the promise goes and says that she shall be a mother of nations. “Kings of peoples shall be from her,” - shall be born of her. And next verse says, Abraham fell on his face and laughed. And God told him, He’s changing his name, he’s going to become father of many nations. He didn't feel like laughing. But when he pointed to his 90-year-old wife, and said, “She's going to be becoming mother of nations,” he just fell on his face and couldn't control laughing. Said, “How can this happen? Shall a child be born to a man who is 100 years old? And shall Sarah, who is 90 years old, bear a child?” This is what he said. Unbelievable, incredible promise.

So, the promise has much more in it than just a son. Not just Isaac, but Jesus the Seed, not just Jesus, but through Jesus many kinds of people, many nations, and tongues and tribes, people from everywhere will come and become Abraham's children. Now you turn to Galatians 3 again, there, Paul interprets it exactly like that in verse 7. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. So, all those who believe are sons of Abraham. Not just physical descendants, not just coming in the lineage of Abraham and Isaac, but anybody who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. That's what he means. “All those who believe and only those who believe or those who are of faith are sons of Abraham,” he says. And then he says something amazing. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nation shall be blessed.” 

See, he’s referring to what we read in Genesis chapter 12 verse 3 and he gives the interpretation here. He says the Scripture foresaw that God would bring in the Gentiles and make them also his children, not just Abraham's physical descendants, but bringing Gentiles also into the family. And because the Bible foresaw that, it told Abraham beforehand, it preached the gospel, that's the way he puts it. “The Bible, the word of God,” he says, “preached the gospel.” The Scripture preached the gospel to Abraham. In other words, in the Scripture we see that the gospel was preached to Abraham. When was it preached? When God said, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Unbelievable.

Paul, a great preacher, an interpreter of the word of God, he says, “When God said to Abraham, ‘In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed,’ He was literally preaching the gospel to Abraham. He was telling him that a savior would come from him. And he was telling him that he would die on the cross of Calvary.” You know, even that was shown to Abraham. God told him to go and offer his son on the mountain as sacrifice. And Abraham goes and gets ready and leaves early morning, taking his son. So ready he leaves and goes and gets ready to offer his son as a sacrifice. God stops him and there provides him a ram caught in the thicket. Stops him from killing his son and tells him to take that ram and kill it. And then God tells him, “See, I brought you here not to take your son but I'm going to give My Son for not just you but for everybody - for the sin of the whole world. My Son is going to become the Lamb of God.” All this revelation God gave. Gospel was preached to Abraham that Jesus will be born, that Jesus will die on the cross, that Jesus will be raised again. All of these things, a revelation was given to Abraham.

And then look at verse 13. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”). Talking about Jesus dying on the cross. And then he talks about in verse 14 why he died. He says, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus. So, all those who believe are the children of Abraham. And scriptures already foresaw that God is going to bring in the Gentiles that is why the scripture already preached the gospel to him saying, “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Therefore, Jesus came and died on the cross. He was born, and then He died on the cross, so that the blessing of Abraham can come to us.” All of that he says.

And then, if that is not enough, then go to the last couple of verses, verse 28 and 29. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Now, verse 28, it is one of the most misunderstood, misapplied verses that you will find. But a lot of verses are misapplied and misunderstood in the Bible. And verse 28, is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible, where it says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither is there slave nor free, there is neither male nor female.” How many people use that?

I remember when I was studying in America, there was a move to not distinguish between male and female in college dormitories. They wanted that we have general dormitories. The idea is you should not distinguish between male and female, they should all live in the same dormitory because we're getting so modern. Why make a difference between male and female? Equality. So, I was talking to one fellow about this, he said, “Well, your Bible says there's no male nor female, did you know that?” Very convenient. The Bible is a very convenient book for all these fellows to use. He says, “Your Bible says there is no male nor female, you should not distinguish between male or female.” But the Bible is not talking about that. The Bible is talking about, there is no male nor female, there is no Jew nor Greek, there is no slave or free - in those days, there were slaves. It doesn't matter whether you are a Jew or Greek, it doesn't matter whether you're a slave or a free person, it doesn't matter even whether you are a male and a female. For what does it not matter? If you are in Christ Jesus, then you are Abraham's seed, then you’re heir to all the promises.

The Bible is talking about Abraham so he doesn't know anything about Abraham's promise. He doesn't know anything about the blessing of Abraham. He doesn't know about Abraham. Maybe he’s just heard about Abraham but doesn't know the story, doesn't know what the Bible teaches. It’s talking about the great truth how that we all become children of Abraham and recipients of the blessing of Abraham through Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter whether you're Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave or free. It doesn't matter. If you are in Christ, you are Abraham's seed, and therefore, heirs according to the promise. All the promises God made to Abraham are yours. What a great truth. He takes it and makes it so cheap for having common bathrooms. I felt very bad. But people use Bible like that. But here is a great truth, if you’re Christ’s then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

So, let's come back to the thing. They all died in faith not having received the promises. That's what Hebrew says. So, let me ask you, have they not received the promises? Did God fail them? Did God promise them and then leave them without the fulfillment of the promises? Why is it saying they all died in faith not having received the promises? It means that in the case of Abraham and others, there were portions of the promise that were to be fulfilled in their lifetime and there were other portions of the promise that were to be fulfilled after their death. See, God has a wide view of things. He's very long-sighted. He can see through the future, through thousands of years. So, when God promised Abraham a seed, not only did He promise Isaac, He promised Jesus and then through Jesus, the Gentiles will become Abraham's children. The promise of Isaac, Abraham saw in his lifetime. He enjoyed the birth of his son, and saw him. His promise was fulfilled. So, you cannot say that God did not fulfill the promises. The nature of the promise is such that some promises were to be fulfilled in his lifetime and some were to be fulfilled after his lifetime. That's the only way it can be done.

But even though it is not fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime... What is not fulfilled in Abraham's lifetime? Jesus, birth of Jesus, the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, His resurrection, the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and the gathering of the Gentiles into the church, and then eternity in heaven for all those who believe in Jesus Christ. All of these things were promised to Abraham. Verse 14 says, for those who say such things. What things? That they are strangers and pilgrims. They are plainly declaring that they seek a homeland. So, Abraham, part of the promise, you might say, as the fourth part of the promise, he had the hope of a homeland. That this world is not his home. That his life is going to be in eternity with Christ. That he's going to live forever and ever with God.

Did you believe the scope of Abraham's promise? Where it reached, how far it reached? Unbelievable. And I'll tell you, the scope of the promises that we have as believers is far reaching also. See, all the promises that are given to us are not just for this life, there are some promises for this life, there are some that can be fulfilled, like the promise of heaven and eternity with Christ and all of that, is to be fulfilled only after death. Therefore, just like Abraham, that is why he makes the analogy of Abraham, that is why he brings up Abraham to teach faith for us. Why? Because he wants to show us that our faith is just like Abraham's faith. Some promises are to be fulfilled here, that God will meet our needs, God will bless us and then God will give us a good life here on this earth and so on. But the promises of God do not end here. God's promises reach way into all eternity, all the way into heaven, throughout all eternity. Therefore, of necessity, the promises of God must be thought about in our mind in this way, that there are promises for this life and promises for life to come. And I tell you, God is faithful.

Therefore, Christianity teaches people not only to live by faith, but also to die in faith. Hello, are you there? Being a Christian is the best way to prepare to die in this world. Why? Because when you die as a Christian, when you close your eyes, you know that God who's good, holy, righteous, truthful, faithful, good, has promised certain things. That our body that is going to be buried in the grave is going to be raised one day. Just like God raised Jesus from the dead, He will raise our body from the dead. Give back our body from the dust of the ground, and give it back as an immortal body. And give life forevermore throughout all eternity in heaven with Jesus. So, when a Christian dies, he closes his eyes knowing for sure he will open them again. For sure, that one day the trumpet will sound, that Jesus will come, that he will be raised up from that grave that they that are dead in Christ shall rise first. That the graves of this world will be opened and the eyes that closed in death are going to be opening again, never to be closed again, never to die again. Never the body to be destroyed again, with a new body, with an immortal body.

What a way to teach faith. This aspect of faith must be taught. Faith has faith for this life and for the life to come. That's why Paul says, if we have only hope for this world, we are men most miserable. What is your hope all about? What are you hoping for? Are you just thinking about the things of this world and your needs here and your life here? Then Paul says, you’re most miserable. In Christianity, our hope extends beyond this life, into the life eternal forever and ever. The promises of God, who's good and righteous and holy, who can never lie and who's all able to fulfill the promises, reach into eternity forever and ever. That is why Christians die in faith. They don't die lamenting hopelessly, “Oh, what is going to happen? What's where? Where am I going? What's going to happen? What is next? Where do I go now?” No, Christian has no such question. Christians knows exactly where he's going. Christian knows that his spirit goes to God, body goes to the grave. But one day, the body also will be raised to be joined with his spirit. That we will be spirit, soul and body once again and live forever and ever with our God, throughout all eternity in the new heaven and new earth.

So, our promises are exactly like Abraham's promises. Some to be fulfilled in lifetime, some to be fulfilled after our lifetime. So, we all also die in faith. We all live by faith, realizing some parts of the promises of God. But we also die in faith, when we die, hoping and trusting in God and giving ourselves into the hands of God for our eternity and future in eternity. Amen? So, now you can understand that, ‘these all died in faith not having received the promises,’ means exactly that. But then what is the next? But having seen them afar off is the next thing. These people that have not received the promises, but the promises have become very real to them. They've seen the promises very far off. What does it mean when it says they saw these promises far off? How do you see the promises far off? Like Abraham saw.

See, that's why the Abraham is a wonderful example. Please turn with me to John 8 verse 56 it says, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day. He is talking to the Jewish Pharisees. Jesus is talking, there’s really fight going on here between the Pharisees and Jesus. They're really angry with him. And he says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” Now, this can be the most offensive statement. And he saw it and was glad. They were in a rage. They said, “Who do you think you are? That our father, the head of our race, rejoiced to see your day. And you say, he saw it. How can he see it?” The next verse. Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Says, “How can you say that Abraham our father rejoiced to see your day and saw and was glad? How can you say that? You're not even 50 years old? Were you there when Abraham our forefather was there? Are you that old? You're not even 50 years old.” And Jesus upsets them even more. This is what finally sends Him to the cross. He says, Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” My goodness, that's like a bolt of lightning for them. Shocking them to the core. Before Abraham was, I AM. Which is true. In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That's Jesus, and He became flesh and came into the world.  And then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. Just disappeared out of their sight, because His time has not yet come, left that place.

So, did Abraham see Jesus' day? Was the gospel preached to him? Did he rejoice in seeing Jesus’ day? Did he rejoice in seeing Jesus being born in this world? Did he rejoice in seeing Jesus’ sacrifice as a Lamb of God on Mount Calvary? Did he see Jesus rising from the dead? Did he see Jesus becoming the Savior of the world? The Bible says, yes. Jesus Himself says, “Yes, Abraham saw and rejoiced over it.” So, they saw it afar off. Now, just like Abraham, we see everything that we do not realize now in our life as being far off. We are given a vision of it in the scriptures. Faith is like that. Faith is making all these things real to us. Faith is making our future real to us. We believe in the things that are going to happen in the future, our life in eternity, and how we’ll be there with God and so on. All of those things we see afar off. These are things that are going to happen and we believe it.

And thirdly, and we're persuaded of them. They were persuaded of them. These people that died in faith were persuaded that these things are true. Now, even for the things that must come to pass in this life like the birth of Isaac, Abraham was persuaded. He had to become fully persuaded then only it can happen. For the things of future also it’s the same way. You’ve got to be fully persuaded. Full persuasion. How is a person fully persuaded of the things that God promises? God promised Isaac to Abraham, that a son will be born to him. Was he fully persuaded? Turn with me to Romans chapter 4. We were there for three weeks down. But let's look at it one more time. Romans chapter 4 and verse 20. Talking about Abraham it says, He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.

How did he become strengthened in faith? He became strengthened in faith and he gave glory to God it seems. And being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. So, the way he got fully convinced that what God had promised He will do is by

giving glory to God and by looking at who God is, the one who promised is. Now, listen to this, I want to say something very important. Abraham's wife is there, Sarah, and the promise is there of a child. If he looks at Sarah, you think he’ll become strengthened in faith? If he looked at a 90-year-old woman? That's very difficult. Already he fell down laughing. So, he’s surely not going to get strengthened in faith by looking at Sarah. It’s an impossible situation, hopeless. The more he looks at her the more he will be discouraged only. If he looks at the promise... some people don't understand this part because they say, “Look at the promise.” But if you look at the promise also you will get discouraged because the promise is too incredible, so unbelievable. I mean, if you tell a 90-year-old woman and a 99-year-old man that a child is going to be born, that is itself too much. But you're saying, “2,000 years Jesus going to be born and then after that Gentiles are going to...” When is it all going to happen? Too incredible, unbelievable.

So, to look at Sarah and himself, whose body was now considered dead, to look at both their bodies, it would have been discouraging. To look at the promise of God, it will be more disheartening because it's too much to believe, impossible to believe, incredible. Then what to look at? And it tells us exactly what he looked at. What did he look at? It says, he became fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. That means, he was looking not at the promise but the promiser. This is a very important point. Look not at the promise but the promiser. Don't look at your situation, which is bad. A lot of people have bad situations, bad problems, too big a problem, problem that's never been solved and never seen anybody come out of it. Don't look at the problem. The more you look at the problem, you will be discouraged. Yeah, inevitably, you’re looking at the problem, but don't take it as something big. Don't keep your eyes on that problem. Don't try to meditate on the problems. But then don't just look at the promise also because the promise seems too incredible. It seems like it's never going to take place, it's never going to come to pass. So, what to look at? Look at the one who promised.

What is the issue here when he looked at the one who promised? The question in his mind was, let me look at Him. Is He able to do what He has promised? Is He powerful enough? Does He have the power to do it? In other words, he was meditating on God's power, meditating on God's ability, meditating on the fact of God's omnipotence, that He is all powerful. The more he meditated on God's omnipotence that He’s all powerful that nothing is impossible with God, the more he spent time looking at God, and how great He is, how wonderful He is, how omnipotent He is, there is nothing in the world that He cannot do, the more he became fully convinced.

I'm saying this to people who say, “How do I become fully convinced of the promises of God? How do I develop in faith? How do I grow in faith?” I'm telling you, more than looking at the promise, look at the God who promised and look at His attributes. That's why I think after I finish Hebrews chapter 11, I'm going to go to the attributes of God. Talk about the omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, how that God is holy, righteous. How that God is truthful, how God is good, how God is righteous and so on. Because the more you meditate upon who God is, and how good He is, how great He is, that He is almighty, then if you look at the promises, then you say, “Oh, He's the one that promised, I know Him. I know how great He is. I know how good He is. He has never lied before. He’s holy. He’s not running a chit fund. He's not going to run away with my money. He's not going to cheat me. He's not going to promise me something and disappear tomorrow. He's a good God. He's a holy, righteous God. He’s almighty God. He's a powerful God. What He says He can do.”

When I understand Him, look at Him and meditate upon Him and then look at the promise, now the promise looks possible. Before it looked impossible, now it looks possible. Then look at the wife, if that's your problem, or your husband, if that's your problem, or your finances, if that's your problem, your health, if that's your problem, your whatever problem you have. Once you've meditated upon God, then you could look at the promise, it’ll look different, then you’ll look at the problem, the problem will look small. Mountains can be moved by that kind of faith. That faith will move mountains.

What we sang today is not just a song, my friend, not just a nice song with a nice rhythm and tune, it is the truth. Mountains can move. So, he got strengthened in faith. How? By considering whether this God is able to do what He said He will do. And he was fully convinced that He who promised was also able to perform. He was convinced about the almighty nature of God.

Now, it says, giving glory to God. What is giving glory to God? Giving glory to God does not mean you come on Sunday and say Hallelujah. That's nice, we all worship, and so on. That's fine. But that's different. That's not giving glory to God. We think giving glory to God is like that. No, giving glory to God is not such a simple matter. I'll tell you what giving glory to God is. You know what is giving glory to God? Some people don't give glory to God, they give glory to the problem. They give glory to the devil. See, when you say it's impossible, when you hear a preaching like this and you go out saying, “Well, that was nice, but I don't know if it will work.” That is not giving glory to God. “My problem is too big. I don't think anybody ever came out of it. Everybody that got into this, got emerged into the problem, and were finished. I don't know what is...” That is not giving glory to God. That is giving glory to the devil?

If that is giving glory to the devil, because you are magnifying your problems, you're saying that it's impossible, that is giving glory to the devil because the devil wants you to believe that, then what is giving glory to God? You going out saying, “With my God, nothing shall be impossible. This God is my God. The God who split the sea into two, the God who brought manna from heaven, the God who brought water out of the rock, the God who made an axe to float, this God is our God.” That's what the Psalmist says. This God is our God. This God is our God. That's giving glory to God. When you talk good about God, when you talk about what God can do, when you talk about how great is your God, when you sing about how God can deliver you, how God can do everything for you, when you talk about God's love and His goodness, His kindness, His ability to keep His promises, that He's faithful, true and righteous and just, you’re glorifying God.

So, Abraham started talking about how God can. He considered God's omnipotence and decided to talk about how God can. And then things started turning around. That's how they got children. All of a sudden, that womb that was now dead, began to receive life. She was able to bear a child for 10 months that old lady in that womb. That womb became strengthened, it became capable of bearing a child. This man who was 99 years old, was permanently healed because after Sarah was dead, he went ahead and had six more boys, for your information. So, God healed him permanently. Hello. God did a total job, it’s not just temporary, onetime thing. He’s completely healed him. Fully persuaded.

And then the next thing that happened was they embraced. It says these people, even though they have not realized the promise, they saw it far off, they were fully persuaded of it, they embraced. What does they embraced mean? Anytime you are fully persuaded, you joyfully embrace those promises. There are promises in the word of God but a lot of people are grim. Even though they have the Bible in their hand, there's no joy in their face. There is no joy in their heart because there are promises in the Bible, but they are not fully convinced that God can do what He says He can do. So, they got all kinds of problem. There is no joy, there is no peace, there is no embracing of the promises. It is there at the wall hanging in their house, it is there in the calendar, but they have not become fully convinced of it. See, we're not calendar Christians. See, people are buying all calendar promises. That's nice because it reminds us of the promises of God, that's good. But just because you hang your calendar in your house, don't think anything is going to happen. I think some people sell the calendar saying that, “You just hang it there and God will bless you.” Now, I don't want to say that. You hang it there and you look at it and then you think about the one who promised it, how great He is and how good He is. Meditate on Him not just the promise. Meditate on Him, then the promise will look easy. Right?

And once you become fully convinced... See, the verbs that are given here: did not receive the promises, they were fully convinced, they saw it afar off, fully convinced. The order of the verbs is very important. The order is ordered. It comes in a particular order deliberately. After they saw it afar off, they were fully convinced, then only they embraced. Unless you are fully convinced, you will never embrace. Unless you have meditated on the one who promised, you will never embrace it. They fully embraced. Embrace means joyfully they accepted, they claimed that promise as theirs. They rejoiced over the promise. They talked about it as if it's theirs. You see anybody talking about God's promises like that? That when they are sick, they talk about the promises of God's healing as theirs? When they are broke, they talk about God's promise of blessing as theirs? That means it's gone into them. They're fully convinced. They're embracing the promises. That's how you embrace, you love the promises of God, you delight in the promises of God.

The final thing is that they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. I just want to say a few things here and close. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. What does it mean? Now, I think it's a problem all over the world. They've taken the strangers and pilgrims’ idea. The Tamil Nadu crowd has really mastered it. But I think it's a problem worldwide. They've taken it for the last 150 or so years. They have built a narrative of poverty around it. That in order to be a stranger and a pilgrim on this earth, you need to be a stranger and pilgrim on this earth and that necessarily meant that you should not have anything in this world, that you should be stricken with poverty, which is good for you. It will keep you holy and clean.

And because this has been preached, I believe in India, at least two generations of people have wasted their lives. Even people that were fine became this kind of strangers and pilgrims. They didn't want to have a house, they didn't want to have anything in this world, nothing in this world. I actually come from a background where they taught you can't even have a bank account. They said, “If you built a house, you won't have a mansion there.” So, how would you expect those people to build a house? If you build a house, you had to build it secretly without telling the pastor. Because if you called him, he’ll curse it. You can’t call him to bless it because they believed like that. They truly believed that. They even believed that if you build a church building here, you will not give an entry in heaven.

So, that's why we always stayed in the thatched hut back in those days. That's the kind of background I come from. So, I know this problem very well. This is a narrative that was built around the stranger and pilgrim idea. But you show me one pilgrim stranger... At the Bible, lot of people call themselves strangers and pilgrims. Abraham called himself stranger and pilgrim, Jacob called himself stranger and pilgrim before standing before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” He says, “I've been a stranger and pilgrim for so many years.” He’s telling his age. “I've been sojourning in this land, stranger and pilgrim for so many years,” he says. The Psalmist says, “I'm a stranger and a pilgrim, along with all my forefathers. I'm a stranger and pilgrim,” he says. In Psalm 39 and verse 12, you can just mark it down, I don't have the time to read it.

Psalmist again says it. Psalmist is a king. It’s David the king. He says, “I'm a stranger on the earth, hide not the commandments from me.” David said, “For we are strangers before Thee and sojourners as were all our fathers,” in 1 Chronicles 29:15. So, the stranger pilgrim thing comes again and again in the Bible. David calls himself stranger and pilgrim. But he's not a guy who didn't have anything. Not that kind of a stranger and pilgrim. Jacob called himself stranger and pilgrim. But he's not a stranger and pilgrim of the kind that you're thinking about. Not the Tamil Nadu kind stranger and pilgrim. Abraham called himself stranger and pilgrim, but the Bible says he was very rich with cattle, gold, silver, male female servants. He's not that kind of stranger and pilgrim. You show me one stranger and pilgrim; I challenge you from the Bible.

One fellow who said stranger and pilgrim didn't have anything. Every time it says stranger and pilgrim, these fellows were very well to do. I'll just read one example. I think that will help us. Genesis chapter 23 and verse 4. Abraham's wife, Sarah dies. Now, he doesn't own any land there. So, he's got to go and get some land to bury his wife. So, he goes to the local people there. And listen to this. Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; verse one, these were the years of the life of Sarah. So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, that's the local people, sons of Heth. “I'm a foreigner and a visitor among you.” Other translations will say, stranger and pilgrim among you. I'm just a stranger and pilgrim among you. Look at this stranger and pilgrim. He says, “Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, “Hear us, my lord.” It looks like this guy was the boss who was employing all those local people. Foreigner employing all those local people. “Hear us, oh lord. You are a mighty prince among us.” Hello. Listen to this. They are saying, “Hey, you're saying you’re stranger and pilgrim, we don't understand this. Why are you looking at yourself as a stranger and pilgrim? You are a prince. You live like a prince; you are a mighty man. You're a wealthy man. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”

So, when Abraham said, “I'm a pilgrim and stranger,” it doesn't mean that he did penniless, nobody. He was living like a prince, as a foreigner among the local people. He was living with such prestige blessed by God. People looked up to him and call him lord. People just don't call people lord just like that. He was somebody in that society and lived like that. He was a God-blessed man and everybody knew that he was a blessed man. So, when Hebrew says, they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims, what does it mean? It means that though they have everything in the world, all the gold, all silver, everything that the world can give, their heart is not in that at all. They simply recognize it as God's blessing and use it for God's glory. They are not attached to it. But who are they attached to? Where is their heart? Their heart is sold out to God and they are attached to God and God only.

When you truly become a Christian and get attached to God, you become like Abraham. You may have everything in this world. It doesn't mean that you become penniless person. You may have everything in this world, but you still don't care for all those things that's there for you. You just recognize them as tools in your hand to do God's will. And you get attached only to God. You desire God more than anything else.

Interesting story of that woman of Samaria. Jesus goes and talks to her, reveals that He is the Messiah, and she leaves the pot there. You know how women are with the pots? I used to when I was a little boy, myself and my brother used to go out in the street with a woman trying to catch water. Have you had an experience like that? That will make a man out of you. With all the competing women, you got to battle with them and put your pot in between, that rush of people coming in and we used to do that very cleverly. And I've seen the woman come with the pots, and they'll always be looking at other people's pots. Say, “Look at that. That must be expensive. She brought another one yesterday. Where did you buy this by the way?” This is the way they are. They won't leave the pots. But this woman after... I'll stop with that, I think. Won’t go any further.

Even in the water tap place this happens. But this woman left the pot there and ran into town, the Bible says. You read it in fourth chapter of John. She forgot the pot, ran into the town because she has found something more precious than the pot. She's not worried about the pot and all that. Went into the town and told people that she has met this person, the Messiah, who we are all waiting for and brought them all to Jesus. I don't know what happened to the pot. That's what happens to a Christian when he meets Jesus. These things become secondary. These are nothing. These are just to be used.

But God is to be desired. God is the one to go after. God is the one to live for. God is the one we give ourselves to, our time, our efforts, our everything to. That is how we [inaudible 01:08:25] that is the kind of faith Abraham had. Though he had everything. He was a pilgrim and a stranger, like a foreigner he lived. When he arrived at the promised land, he built a tent there, the Bible says in chapter 12 verse 8 of Genesis, and then he put an altar there, signifying the life on this earth is temporary. Tent can be undone and moved to another place. But the altar was made of stone. It stayed there forever. My relationship with God is forever. My life on this earth is temporal. That is what Abraham signified when he said, “I'm a pilgrim and a stranger.” He had no attachment to things, but he had everything that he wanted more than enough. I pray that God will bless you and use every one of us in that way to have the faith of Abraham and to live like Abraham.

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